• There’s no harm in charm

    Author(s): Tom S. Davis, DNAP, CRNA, MAE

    What do Winston Churchill, Nelson Mandela, and John Kennedy have in common?  They are all recorded in the history books as being charismatic leaders.  To some, the stereotype of a magnetic personality carries the negative connotation of an all-show predator who is constantly on the look-out for a sucker who will fall prey to a con scheme.  However, a closer look at charisma reveals a more positive view of the importance of an alluring personality in dynamic leadership. Some of the most memorable people in history and in our personal lives are those who use personal appeal constructively, and when you think back over the span of your career, it is likely that your favorite boss was a person with appeal beyond the actual job.

    Engaging leaders use powerful communication skills to connect verbally, non-verbally and emotionally with all whom they encounter.  Larger than life leaders are able to articulate a compelling vision and are masters at motivating individuals to embrace their cause by inspiring people to give effort that transcends what is required.  In the words of Robert House, professor at the Wharton School, “Charismatic leaders cause followers to become highly committed to the leader’s mission, to make significant personal sacrifices, and to perform above and beyond the call of duty.”  Charisma can be learned and all it takes is the desire and the commitment to add dynamic magnetism to your list of positive traits.

    Writing a guest article in, author Hannah Lewis, UK-based educationist, recommends infusing charismatic energy by keeping the workplace light while displaying self-confidence and making every person you encounter feel as if they have your full attention.  Maintaining personal integrity while role modeling behavior consistent with your vision adds to your credibility and creates a desire in others to be loyal supporters of your vision and plan.

    Captivating charm is not an inborn leadership trait, but rather a skill that is learned. 

    Writing in Business InsiderAuthor Vivian Giang affirms that anybody can learn to be more charismatic and offers advice for improving personal appeal.

    • Focus on others. Make everyone you interact with feel as if they are the most important person in the room.  Eye contact, listening and follow-up questions all give a sense of importance to the person talking to you.
    • Be present. Give every interaction your full attention even if only for a short period of time.  Checking mobile devices or having side bar conversations are taboo.
    • Relax and smile. Think of something pleasant…your body will respond and change your facial appearance.
    • Don’t be physically dominant. Put yourself at a similar height.  Stand as if you are sitting and don’t tower over others when you stand.
    • Give a warm greeting. Use a friendly facial expression and a firm but not overwhelming hand shake.
    • Value the other person. Listen, pause and ask questions.  Always seek a deeper level of understanding.
    • Leverage your physical position. Sit next to or 90 degrees from the other person…never across. Sitting across puts a physical barrier between people and increases the likelihood of disagreement/argument.
    • Avoid name dropping or gossip. Don’t compare yourself to others or talk about people who are not present.
    • Demonstrate moral integrity. Show inner strength through the way you conduct your business.  Yes means yes, no means no, and commitments are honored when brought to completion.
    • Be confident both verbally and non-verbally. Don’t be distracted with self-doubt.  Use positive language and confident posture.
    • Seek personal growth. Put yourself into uncomfortable situations so that you can practice your skills.

    In today’s workplace a charismatic leader at any level of the chain of command is bound to elevate the team and add to the organization.  Winston Churchill proved that you don’t have to be physically attractive to be magnetic; all that is required is the ability to connect, communicate, motivate and inspire every individual you encounter.   Great Britain might not have survived WWII, Apartheid might never have ended, and Russian nuclear missils might be in Cuba if not for the charismatic leadership of Churchill, Mandella and Kennedy.  These three dynamic and captivating people used their ability to connect, inspire and motivate others to change the course of history.  You can do the same in your workplace by infusing genuine, dynamic charm into your leadership style.

    Tom S. Davis, DNAP, CRNA, MAE, is the former Chief of the Division of Nurse Anesthesia at The Johns Hopkins in Baltimore, and former Chief CRNA at (Baylor) Scott and White, Main OR in Temple, TX. Col. Davis, USAF (Ret.), is well-known throughout the Nurse Anesthesia community for his leadership in clinical anesthesia, including developing the first distance education model while on the graduate faculty at Kansas University Medical Center.   Recognized for his expertise in team-building across department lines, Tom is a sought-after speaker, educator, author, and leadership trainer. Follow @procrnatom on Twitter.